IDF strikes Hamas targets along Gaza-Egypt border
Israeli reserve soldiers in a military training in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, on Dec. 13, 2023. (Photo: Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The IDF announced three casualties—118 since the ground offensive began—and four seriously injured personnel.

Yaakov Lappin
December 15, 2023

(JNS) — Under the guidance of its intelligence directorate and Southern Command, the Israeli Air Force targeted and demolished Hamas military sites along the Gaza-Egypt border this week, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Friday.

Sites in Rafah facilitated Hamas’s smuggling operations, including weapons that threaten Israeli civilians and soldiers, per the IDF. The strikes aimed to disrupt the terror organization’s smuggling capabilities and its exploitation of humanitarian aid for weapons trafficking and attacks against IDF troops, it added.

The targets included guide and observation posts, weapons storage facilities and command-and-control centers.

The IDF announced on Friday that Sgt. Oz Shmuel Aradi, 19, of Kibbutz Hatzor and a member of the 603rd Engineering Battalion, was killed in combat in southern Gaza. Master Sgt. Tomer Shlomo Myara, 28, of Netanya and the 710 Engineering Battalion, was also killed in action, in northern Gaza. And Sgt. First Class (res.) Shay Uriel Pizem, 23, of Ein HaNatziv and the 401st Armored Brigade’s 9th Battalion, was killed in combat in southern Gaza, per the military.

A reservist from the 710 Engineering Battalion sustained severe injuries in northern Gaza, and a reservist from Division 98, part of a reserve commando and paratrooper brigade, was seriously injured. Two others—a reservist officer in the 7029th Battalion, part of a reserve armored brigade, and an officer from the 51st Battalion of the Golani infantry Brigade—were gravely wounded in northern Gaza.

The injured were evacuated to hospitals, and their families were notified.

‘Many months ahead’

Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, stated on Friday that the war “is a multi-arena campaign and there are many months ahead.”

Accompanied by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yossi Bachar, deputy head of the Southern Command, and other senior officers, Haliva conducted an assessment in the Gaza Strip.

In a second meeting with intelligence officers on Friday, he discussed enhancing the strength and precision of the intelligence flow to the tactical field units, as well as integration of intelligence with Israeli Air Force, Navy and ground forces, creating a formidable military system. 

Haliva underscored the importance of operational achievements, exerting pressure on the enemy and pursuing the destruction of Hamas, as well as recovery of hostages and missing persons.

As of Friday at noon in Israel, the IDF’s casualty count stands at 447 fallen soldiers since Oct. 7, with 118 killed in action since the Gaza ground offensive began on Oct. 27.

There are 132 confirmed hostages in Gaza, four missing persons and eight recovered bodies of those murdered in enemy captivity.

Earlier on Friday, the IDF announced that it retrieved the bodies of hostages Elia Toledano, Cpl. Nik Beizer and Sgt. Ron Sherman, whom Hamas terrorists captured on Oct. 7.

Dolls, children’s backpacks

Also on Friday, the IDF reported that Israeli soldiers encountered an elaborate Hamas ambush in a tunnel network, which reservists from the 162nd Division’s 261st Brigade discovered. The tunnel, which featured dolls, children’s backpacks and speakers simulating crying sounds, was designed to lure IDF forces.

It connected to civilian structures, including a school, a medical clinic and a mosque, with a Hamas command center in a mosque with cameras monitoring IDF movements, the military said.

Since Oct. 7, Israel has struck some 22,000 enemy targets in Gaza, eliminating thousands of terrorists.

In northern Israel, Israeli Air Force aircraft targeted and destroyed Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon. An Israeli aircraft also engaged a terrorist operating near Zar’it in northern Israel, further extending the scope of the conflict.

An Israeli helicopter and aircraft struck Hezbollah terror targets, including launch posts and military posts from which launches were fired toward northern Israel earlier in the day.

Following sirens sounded in northern Israel, launches from Lebanon toward locations in northern Israel were identified and some were intercepted per protocol. The latter included shooting down a suspicious aerial target in Lebanese territory. A drone that crossed from Lebanon fell near an IDF post in the Manara area. The IDF struck the sources of the launches.

Earlier on Friday, the IDF Aerial Defense Array also successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target in Lebanese territory before it was able to cross into Israel. Additionally, a drone that crossed over from Lebanese territory fell near an IDF post in the area of Manara in northern Israel.

In response, the IDF is striking the launch sources.

Also, IDF soldiers engaged two armed terrorists near Yaroun in Lebanon on Friday.

Since the start of the war, the IDF has struck more than 110 terror squads in Lebanon, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, IDF spokesman, stated on Wednesday.

‘Valuable Time’ exercise

Also in northern Israel, IDF mandatory and reserve soldiers have been conducting a combat training exercise to boost readiness for multiple scenarios on the northern border. The exercise, called “Valuable Time,” placed a special focus on reserve force readiness, including for daytime and nighttime combat, as well as urban and rural warfare, per the military.

“They are undergoing operational artillery training and receiving certification to operate various types of weapons,” the IDF said. “The exercises are being conducted on a number of levels, from the platoon level to the battalion combat teams, in order to best simulate integrated joint combat.”

The IDF Northern Command established a training arena that includes shooting instructors, a mobile fire operation unit and training across a range of weapons, as well as technological tools for planning combat to enhance force readiness.

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